In the radio station's control booth used for That Sci-Fi Show, Joey Reynolds, a George Costanza-like character, intently cues up The X-Files' theme and adjusts sound levels. On the other side of a glass window, a leather-vested, red-bearded Evan Edwards makes bugs' eyes of foam microphone covers while other crew members joust quietly with pencils and highlighters and heckle Reynolds during commercial breaks. It has been this way every Sunday night since February 7 at the studios of WPBR-AM (1340) in Lake Worth.
Tonight's guest is Stuart Galbraith IV, whose definitive paperback Monsters Are Attacking Tokyo!: The Incredible World of Japanese Fantasy Films, was published in May 1998, the same month as the $120 million American movie Godzilla. The author found the big-budget version "absolutely terrible," favoring the 1954 Japanese Godzilla that spawned decades of "rubber monster" imitators.
Reynolds books the guests, but Edwards, an Internet programmer and writer for the literary 'zine Crystal Wind and British Web 'zine Red Bone, conducts the interviews. Cohost Reynolds, an exterminator by day, has broadcast experience. He conceived the show, which features segments on science fiction news, NASA developments, and Japanese animation.
Edwards defines "fandom" as any subculture formed around fantasy films, TV shows, books, or role-playing games shunned by the mainstream, which he calls the "mundanes." "The two main things that motivate most of our listeners are boredom and a very bizarre sense of humor," he surmises.
Topics for each show are scheduled at least a month in advance, but a recent episode on The Rocky Horror Picture Show was scrapped for a more constructive discussion of "geek discrimination" in the wake of the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado. The May 23 show, billed as "Star Wars -- The Morning After," will examine Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which opened May 19. Guests and callers will weigh in on whether the film lived up to the hype.
The release of the new blockbuster has put basement buffs in the limelight. Star Wars fans who camped out a month in advance to get tickets, for example, have been in the news and broadcast live on the Internet.
"Sci-fi fans have always been like the crazy uncle at birthday parties whom you never wanted to get close to," says Reynolds. "And now suddenly the crazy uncle's popular."